396779 08: The western span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge and San Francisco skyline seen November 2, 2001. Bridge security in California has been stepped up since California Governor Gray Davis announced authorities have received very credible threats that one of California's many suspension bridges may be targeted for terrorist attack between November 2 - November 7, 2001. (Photo By Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A low-emission ferry that will shuttle passengers between Oakland and the West Bay was christened at the Oakland Ferry Terminal in Jack London Square today.
The Taurus will immediately provide service between Oakland and San Francisco and in the fall of 2011 it will also provide service between Oakland and a new terminal in South San Francisco, according to Leamon Abrams of the Water Emergency Transportation Authority.
The christening of the Taurus is part of a two-pronged effort aimed at expanding ferry service in the Bay Area as well as developing an emergency water transportation system.
California Emergency Management Authority Secretary Matthew Bettenhausen, whose agency is responsible for leading the state's emergency response to natural and man-made disasters, said the ferry system will help the Bay Area respond to and recover from disasters.
U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, who participated in the event, said in a statement, "Expanding our regional ferry system is a key component in the Bay Area's strategy to cut freeway congestion and provide sustainable transportation options."
The Water Emergency Transportation Authority, which is based in San Francisco, was created by the California Legislature in 1999 and initially was known as the Water Transportation Authority.
Its name was changed in 2007 after it was given the responsibility for providing disaster response and recovery.
The Taurus is the agency's fourth new passenger vessel. The vessels represent the initial investments in a regional ferry system with plans to add up to seven new routes that are expected to triple ridership.
The Taurus is a 199-passenger, double-hulled catamaran vessel that the water authority says runs 85 percent cleaner than current Environmental Protection Agency standards for marine engines in its class.
Abrams said more than 400 people took free rides on the ferry today.
The standard roundtrip fare for adults traveling from Oakland or Alameda to San Francisco will be $12.50. Prices are lower for those who buy a 40-ticket pack.